Not made for this world

I know that I’m not alone in the feeling that I don’t really belong in this world.  This is a somewhat “no duh” sort of statement – most autistic people, I imagine, feel that way at some time or another.  

I feel like so many times, I try so very hard, harder than my allistic/NT counterparts.  I expend so much energy, I work so hard and try and do so much just so that I can rejoice in little victories.  

I have done something recently that I don’t think I ever expected to do.  I’ve been promoted to manager of the fast food restaurant where I work.  This is fantastic and I’m so grateful that they’re recognizing how hard I work to make every guest’s experience a good one, and I don’t balk at hard work, and I’m always there to pick up any shifts that they need me to.  

The problem is that I’m extremely nervous about this change.  Not only am I going to be in a more fast-paced part of the store, but my responsibilities will be increased and I won’t always have a script to rely on.  Because let’s be real.  You screw up someone’s order at the drive thru, and you have a script to fix it.  Your interactions with a customer are very minimal and they pretty much rely on a formula.  Greet the customer, take their order, thank them.  Greet them when they get to your window, take their payment, thank them, and send them to the next window to retrieve their order.  Of course there’s some variance here, and some of them make little comments and jokes and I never know how to fully respond to those, but overall, it’s pretty much the same thing every day.

But now? Now I will have people to manage, and added responsibilities and what if I don’t understand something is a joke? And one of the management training e-learning courses mentioned that only 7% of what is communicated is through words only, and that body language/facial expressions/eye contact is important and this makes me want to cry in frustration.  Will I piss off someone and be reported as “rude” (which is grounds for immediate termination)? Do I dare bring up the fact that I’m autistic with my employer, which though it isn’t a secret (it’s in my employment paperwork from my new hire orientation) isn’t exactly something I have been completely open about at work?

I don’t know.  Will I be able to manage the politics within the management that currently exists? Will I be accepted as one of them or will I be an outcast like I usually am? I’m not sure.  I want to do well, because I love my job.  I know it’s against the stereotype of autistic people, but gosh, I really do love people.  I love making them happy.  I know that our food is not the best health-wise, but I want to make people happy by giving them at least good quality food, even if its healthfulness is in question.   

It’s mostly just nerves.  Of the three people becoming manager this month, I’ve been there for years less than the others.  So I know that I’ve shown that I can do my job and do it well, and they’ve taken notice.  I am further in my training (in the e-learning modules) than the others, as far as I can tell.  I am excited about this job, and I want to do well.  Some would say that it’s just nerves, but I know that isn’t the case.  I have legitimate concerns because of the way I am and the way I’ve been since the day I was born.  Perhaps if I had more social skills training taught by other autistics, I’d know how to properly form my face so it doesn’t look like I’m either overly enthusiastic and making fun of someone or completely flat and disinterested.  

I guess in the end, I’ll find out how autistic and disability friendly my employer really is.  

I’m grateful for the opportunity – I just hope that I have the chance to prove myself.

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6 thoughts on “Not made for this world

  1. I got a huge smile on my face when you told me of your promotion. Way to go.
    Your concerns are legitimate. Man, the challenges you have in front of you. Just remember the ones you have overcome thus far to get to this point. Courageous is what you are to me.

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  2. http://www.scribd.com/doc/4104982/The-Book-of-Tells-Peter-Collett
    Got a copy of this at 12, then between that and having an autistic mom solved everything with the social issues for me. It’s annoying as hell to memorize, but when you do it becomes second nature and people become pretty easy to figure out.
    As for employment, I was really, really worried about entering the work force given the prospect of a joe-job environment coupled with two spectrum disorders. I asked around, and it turned out people matching my description were purportedly in demand. I was always into computers and electronics, and it seemed at least in the big city that was what people needed. The lesson I took from it was you can just get a job doing whatever it is you liked doing to begin with and do it either alone, in a group, or in a crowd, so just pick what you enjoy and be yourself. Takes away the awkwardness and anxiety surrounding it all to just cut through the BS and be yourself when it comes to people you have to deal with.
    Good luck with your endeavors, I’m just glad to finally see something about autism online that’s actually good. It’s like a lone diamond in a sea of pages suspiciously close to eugenics.

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  3. I know that I’m not alone in the feeling that I don’t really belong in this world.
    Although it is not so much that we were not made for this world, it is that the modern world has been made to exclude everybody who doesn’t fit a limited idea of ‘normal’. Some people don’t seem to realise that normal is what you live every day, not whatever bandwagon everyone else is jumping onto.

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    1. That doesn’t really change the perception that the expression on a person’s face must match what is in their head or else they’re lying. Especially when it comes to autistic people. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked why I was angry and I absolutely was not angry.

      But thank you for the information, though it does contain some ableist terminology (“only an idiot wouldn’t realize… ” – really?!) and I’m not so fond of that.

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  4. “That doesn’t really change the perception that the expression on a person’s face must match what is in their head or else they’re lying”
    You’re absolutely right, for most people seeing incongruity between tone/body language and words is cause for suspicion, which is a challenge for those who are not ‘most’. My experience of a lifetime of being told ‘cheer up, it might never happen’, ‘careful, the wind might change’, ‘what’s wrong? [with concerned look] taught me that I have to consciously pay attention to my facial expressions, which is not easy at all. Should I have to? Well, I don’t know. I’m a newcomer to the world of autism (or however it should be described, I’m wary of the many nuances and ease of causing offence). I’m still assimilating information and figuring things out. However, what reading about Mehrabian’s work taught me is that for ‘most’ people when they display a difference between the words and tone/body language that I should pay attention to the tone/body language instead of the words. Yet another thing I had to figure out. It helped me understand past disagreements I’d had with people…
    “But you said you were fine!”
    “So?”
    “Why say you’re fine if you’re not?”
    “Because….(any number of reasons that seemed fairly illogical to me)”
    It took me reading the study to actually get it.
    I apologise for posting the link with the language. You’re absolutely right about that too, it’s not something to be fond of, or that I should have shared. I used it because it had a decent description of the study but I should have kept looking for something that was more appropriate.
    Anyway, It’s been great to read your blog, thank you very much for writing it.

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